Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

This originated from a facebook invitation, which copied an Open Salon invitation, to write 25 random things about yourself. These aren't exactly, 'random,' like "I love peanut butter and ice cream" (which I do) 'random.' They are 'random' as in, today, these things rise to the top of my head as important things in my life, 'random.' This feels more narcissistic than most posts. But, what's a a little narcissism among friends?

What are your 25?

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my shot at it:

25 Random things about me:

1. Family is everything to me. I delight in being a daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and a near-mother-in-law.

2. Being adopted was my fate. I was blessed to find Darlene and Lowell and their wonderful Scotch, Irish and German, and Swedish families. I am partial to the crazy Swedish branch (here and in Sweden).

I heart holidays

3. Adopting Daniel and having James were two of the most important events and adventures of my life. I couldn’t live without them. They don’t follow the rules but neither did their father or I.

4. My friends are like family, particularly because growing up I was an only child and ‘built family’ through my friends. I plan on retiring with some of them (Deb). Two of them (Rob A. and Susan) allowed me travel adventures I could not have experienced without them. I cherish one of them (Lisa) that lives behind me. One is now in Portland and working for a demography center (Gu). One I met at the Baton Rouge, YMCA at our children's swimming lessons (Jerri). One took care of my children in State College, PA (Bernie). One was my mentor in Human Ecology (Lyn). One I grew to know after her husband died (Kimberly). There are so many more.

5. I met my full-brother 15 years ago after we both grew up as only children in the Northwestern United States, two states apart. Rich and I lived literally blocks from where he and my birthmother lived in Ballard, Washington. My brother was a gift.

6. I am ½ Greek and ½ Norwegian although I look totally Scandinavian (pale as all get out).

I always had my own tree. T'was the beginning of the 15 boxes of decorations we now own.

7. I was an AFS exchange student in Tres Rios, Costa Rica when I was a junior in high school, which started my travel lust. I recommend international travel or residency to nearly everyone, including my children. In this, and in many other ways, my children are so unlike me. They barely want to leave the state.

8. On Christmas Day in 1981 I was taught how to weave on a back-strap loom from an indigenous woman named Rosa on an Island across from Lake Titicaca in Guatemala. I can remember thinking, “this will be the coolest thing I’ll ever do.” Fortunately, that has not been the case, but it was one of the coolest…

9. I met my husband, a Peace Corps Volunteer on a bus destined for Cahuita, Costa Rica in the fall of 1981. The bus broke down and we met again near the white and black sand beaches of Puerto Viejo two days later. He visited me again in the summer of 1982 in Portland, Oregon. We got married in April of 1983 at the Orangetown Courthouse, in NY. At the time of our wedding we had spent roughly 6 months with each other.

10. Rich and I were married twice but not divorced in between-- once in April of 1983 and again in October of 1983. The second was less traumatic than the first. Marrying him was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. He is truly my life partner. Thank God I listened to my intuition and heart.

11. Meeting the people of Nature’s Spirit in 1999 while working on a Kellogg grant studying community, spirituality and sustainability was one of the fortuitous events of my life (XOXO Elisa, Ricks, Charlie, Kathy, Carolyn, Francisco). I finally got to visit Dr. Ariyaratne and Sarvodaya, an organization that gives my life hope and meaning, and I was introduced to Auroville, Vérité, Village Action and Bhavana Dee, more reasons for hope in this life time. I need it-- “hope” that is.

12. On New Year’s Day in 2000, I spent the day with a channeling Buddhist Monk in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka and learned about my and Sri Lanka’s destiny.

Here I am with our first boat, Nena I (my father named it after me). I love the water and smell of a sputtering 35 hp engine. The dreams I have not realized are owning a boat and living on the water.

13. My favorite books and writers are all based in the spirit or on religion. However, a requirement appears to be that the authors are about ready to leave their religion, or at least that they’re irreverent. I think this speaks volumes about my relationship to religion but not to my relationship with God. I am a converted Catholic that thinks like a Buddhist, and has a soft spot for Hinduism and Judaism, and Sufism.

14. My grandson Kellan has been a shining light in my life, and is the sweetest soul I know (other than his mother, Brandi, and my cousin Carrie). He re-taught me what I already knew, that what is best for you cannot be planned.

15. My mother has made my favorite cookies (white, puff, cookies that melt in your mouth), her spicy pumpkin pie, her creamy cranberry salad, and my Aunt Lucy’s ham sauce for me for the last 45 years of my life, mostly on Thanksgiving and Christmas. She made me cook, travel and learn to ski and swim – all of which I now love-- and is probably the person closest to me alive.

16. I have been lucky in love and have been loved well by the men in my life. I owe this to my father’s love in the first instance, I think.

17. I love to travel, cook, read, write, dance and laugh.

18. I am a loud speaker and laugher, and all my life people have been telling me to “shhhh.”

19. I like my animals often better than people, and have a hard time living a content life without them. I grieve hard when they die.

20. Moving to Louisiana was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it has forged and defined me and my life. You’d have to drag me out of here.

21. Although I was trained as a gerontologist, I feel blessed to have found work on the other end of the life span, helping children avoid truancy and delinquent behavior, and working in an office with an eclectic band of social worker types (the closest people I’ve found in Louisiana that I can call ‘my people’).

22. Meeting Rich’s Jewish family and relatives was like “coming home.” I’ve never experienced such a feeling of belonging in my life. They make me crazy but I wouldn't have missed them for the world.

23. I like television and am addicted to American Idol, So you Think you can Dance, this season of The Bachelor and Ghost Whisperer.

24. I love weddings and funerals, both are celebrations when they are done right. Both make me sob, sleep and feel content.

25. I have a phobic aversion to the telephone, and it gets me into trouble. Rich and I fight over who has to answer it. This is related to my tendency toward hermetic behavior.

Did I mention that I do not like my picture taken? Nearly always though, at about a year later I think, "that's the best picture anyone ever took of me!" So, you can imagine that I love these pictures, most taken about 40 some years ago.


  1. Fun to get to know you a bit better, Denese! Adorable little girl you pics!

  2. Hi again, Denese! You asked me to email you a letter, but I don't see your email address. Hope this is okay. I'm passing along the letter "c" for the letter game. Have fun!! :)


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